It's Fast and It Lasts, but Porter Puts Processed Food on Blast

Joe Porter

Joe Porter

Wednesday, April 5, 2023
It's Fast and It Lasts, but Porter Puts Processed Food on Blast

Photo by Khalid Boutchich, courtesy of Unsplash

Processed foods are not good for people, but little is being done to fix this problem. Many people in the developed world continue to endanger their health by consuming too much processed food (any food that has been modified to taste better or last longer). The problem of processed food is rarely talked about because those who cause it are the same people who have the resources to promote it: the fast-food companies do not want the issue to be widely understood because they want to profit. These corporations take advantage of people with lower incomes who do not have access to fresh foods. Fast food is a low-priced commodity, and instead of trying to help low-income people have access to more beneficial foods like fruits and vegetables, people in power allow this problem to continue. 

Fast food is designed to take advantage of human brain chemistry. It's made to stimulate chemicals in the brain that trigger pleasurable sensation. This means that if you try fast food, it is possible to become addicted in the same fashion you would to drugs. So the fast-food companies are not only targeting low-income families who can’t afford whole foods (food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances), they are also getting people hooked on their unhealthy products. This means these companies are responsible for many of the health issues that plague our country today. It is truly a horrible predicament, and many people can't afford to do anything about it.

Although processed foods significantly affect people with lower incomes, they also negatively impact those with higher incomes. Many people who are in the upper or middle class also have problems with obesity and maintaining good health. Fast food continues to be popular and continues to harm the people. On an average day 36.6% of American adults consume fast food. It might be unrealistic for Americans to take a strong stance against processed foods and hope to see quick results. In the average American diet, processed food makes up around 57% percent of all calories, and this number continues to rise.

Fast food and sugar-sweetened drinks are proven to cause a higher risk of mortality. Food is supposed to keep us alive, not kill us slowly while we eat it. Processed food causes an increased risk of disease, yet people continue to ingest fried chicken, pizza, and candy. Sometimes even people who have access to healthy foods are still choosing to eat fast food. One of the biggest problems associated with fast food is obesity. Fast food is the food most linked to obesity. There are four main reasons: unhealthy ingredients, large portions, low costs, and its convenience. Fast food has more sugar, salt, and fat than other food and it is continually served in large quantities. The average body weight has increased along with the portion sizes of fast food, and even though the portion sizes have become overwhelmingly large, people will still finish the whole meal. Even though health officials have been calling for portion size reduction, fast food companies like Wendy’s continue to increase their portion sizes. Obviously these companies know that what they are doing is detrimental to public health, but they are ignoring the experts and continuing with their operation. There is not going to be any effort on the part of the fast-food companies to solve the issue of obesity and other diseases that their products cause, because if individuals are consuming their food, then these companies are making money. So, it is safe to assume that there needs to be significant cultural and economic changes for the effects of fast food to be curbed. In any case, it is important to understand that the fast food being put into our bodies is not good and nutritious, like fruit or unprocessed meats, because the ingredients in fast food are unhealthy.

The number of people eating fast food is a problem, but the more important issue is processed foods in general. Fast food is made of processed foods, but processed foods are everywhere. A lot of people know that more processed foods eaten equals less overall health, but even people who know this still indulge in protein bars and powders created in a lab somewhere. The fact of the matter is there is too little unprocessed “whole” food being eaten nowadays and this is causing serious health problems. Studies show that eating hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats leads to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Eating whole grains daily such as brown rice or whole wheat bread reduces the risk of that cancer. But it's easy to look around at the world and see that there are a lot more processed meats being eaten than whole grains. However, colorectal cancer is just one of the various health conditions processed foods cause, which include obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

While it is okay to eat mildly processed foods like cut vegetables or roasted nuts, it can become dangerous when you start to regularly indulge in heavily processed foods such as frozen pizzas or microwaveable dinners. Canned and processed foods of all kinds can be unhealthy -- even canned fruits and vegetables -- because the manufacturers usually
add sugar, fat, and salt to enhance the taste of their products (not to mention the chemicals that leach out of the packaging) so you will continue to purchase it.

Another big problem with processed foods is the added sodium. Most companies put too much sodium into their products to help preserve them for longer periods of time, so it is important that you look for low- or reduced-sodium foods to ensure that you're not ingesting too much.

Another thing that a lot of processed foods have in common is they have lots of trans-fat, which many experts consider to be the worst fat for your health. It is important to always check the ingredients on canned and packaged foods before you buy them to make sure that they don’t have any harmful ingredients in them. It is important to know what you're eating and is important to make sure your top priority is eating for good health, not necessarily for great taste. 

Little change is being made to mitigate the health risks of processed foods. Something must be done, or else people will continue to get unhealthier as they become more reliant on them. 

To share your thoughts on this or anything else you've see in The Acta Diurna, to suggest story ideas, or to become a contributor, email